STEM job demand significant in Southwest Michigan

Proos recognizes National STEM Day

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, recently co-sponsored a Senate resolution celebrating National STEM Day and highlighting the bright future of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

“Although Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, many positions remain unfilled,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As a member of the governor’s MiSTEM Advisory Council, I know that STEM education can play a key role in addressing our skilled jobs gap by providing training and education in fields where positions exist. That is why I sponsored legislation to give students vital information for helping them plan their futures.”

Senate Bill 343 would require schools to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand occupations for their local economic forecast region.

“STEM occupations have increased by 14 percent since 2008, while other non-STEM jobs grew by only 1.4 percent — and STEM careers are expected to continue to grow faster than those in other fields,” Proos said. “In Michigan, students with degrees in STEM have the highest employment rate after graduation, and those with STEM-related majors have an average income 31 percent higher than those with non-STEM degrees.”

The “Hot Jobs” outlooks for each of Michigan’s 10 prosperity regions are available at milmi.org/research/Regional-Hot-Jobs-for-2024. According to the Hot Jobs outlook for Southwest Michigan, the careers with the highest projected growth from 2014 to 2024 in the region are computer-controlled machine tool operators (26.4 percent), nurse practitioners (23.5 percent) and software developers (20.8 percent).

Proos has also introduced SB 344 to allow a student to receive a STEM certification as an incentive for taking additional STEM courses. If the bill is enacted, Michigan would be the first state to allow such a STEM certification opportunity.

“STEM contributions are all around us and shape our lives every day,” Proos said. “National STEM Day and my bills are both about ensuring that we continue leading the world in innovation and that every student receives the education and information they need for success.”

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Editor’s note: To view Proos’ National STEM Day Senate floor speech, click on the image or visit www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Video.

First-time homebuyer program would grow Michigan families

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan residents would be able to set up a savings account to help cover the costs of a first-time home purchase under legislation co-sponsored by Sen. John Proos. The measures would also provide a state tax deduction for contributions to the savings account.

“This initiative is about promoting smart homeownership, attracting new talent and encouraging new generations of Michigan residents to stay and grow roots in our state,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I was proud to co-sponsor this positive legislation to achieve those goals by helping residents save enough money to buy their first house.”

Senate Bill 511 would create the Michigan First-time Home Buyer Savings Program. It would allow an individual to open an account with a financial institution and designate it as a first-time homebuyer savings account. Funds in the account could be used toward a down payment or allowable closing costs for a first-time home purchase in Michigan.

SB 512 would provide a state income tax deduction of up to $5,000 for a single return and $10,000 for a joint return for contributions made into a first-time homebuyer savings account for up to 20 years.

If a withdrawal is made for a non-qualifying purpose — something other than a down payment or closing costs for a first home purchase — the withdrawn amount would be added to the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

“Often concerns about being able to afford a responsible down payment hold back prospective first-time homebuyers,” Proos said. “This is compounded by our state’s booming housing market. Although increasing property values are good for homeowners, schools and local communities, they make it harder for young professionals and new families to afford to buy. That is where this savings program would help the most.”

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Proos recently voted to approve the bills and send them to the full Senate for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

**PHOTO ADVISORY** Sen. Proos welcomes Pastor Dryden to Capitol for Senate invocation

LANSING, Mich. Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, welcomed the Rev. Jeff Dryden to the state Capitol on Tuesday. Dryden is the senior pastor at Converge Community Church in New Buffalo and delivered the invocation before Senate session.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley joined Proos and Dryden for the invocation.

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Editor’s note: The above photos of Proos are available by clicking on the images or by visiting Proos’ website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.

Video of Dryden’s invocation is available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Video.

Sen. Proos applauds milestone in number of registered organ donors in Michigan

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Monday applauded the recent announcement by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson that over 60 percent of Michigan adults are registered as organ donors.

“There are thousands of Americans currently in need of a lifesaving organ transplant, including more than 3,500 people here in Michigan,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As part of an effort to save and improve lives, it is great news that more than 60 percent of Michigan adults are now registered as organ donors.

“Lauren’s Law is already showing great results in helping boost registration numbers. I want to thank Secretary of State Johnson for her help on that new law and applaud her for her efforts to more than double the percentage of registered organ donors in our state.”

In January 2011, only 27 percent of eligible Michigan residents were registered organ donors.

Proos sponsored Senate Resolution 14 to declare Valentine’s Day as Organ Donor Registry Day in a bipartisan effort to spread awareness of the state’s registry.

The senator also sponsored Public Act 451 of 2016 to require the secretary of state’s office to ask whether someone wishes to be added to the organ donor registry when they apply for a driver’s license. The act is named “Lauren’s Law” after Lauren Shields, who at age 9 was placed on life support while waiting for a heart transplant and helped pass a similar law in New York.

Proos got involved in the issue at the initiative of John Grinnell, a Southwest Michigan resident and kidney transplant recipient.

“I received the gift of life 30 years ago, which has allowed me to enjoy life with my lovely wife and our children and to meet and love our grandchildren,” said Grinnell. “While my life has been a miracle, many others in Michigan die waiting for organ donations that never come.”

Proos said, “It is also important to remind residents that there is still a tremendous need for more donors. Registering to become an organ donor can give hope to people we may never know or potentially save the life of someone we love.”

According to Donate Life America, more than 115,000 men, women and children nationwide currently need an organ transplant; every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list; and an average of 22 people die each day waiting for an available organ.

Residents can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry by visiting www.ExpressSOS.com and clicking on “Organ Donation” on the left.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Sen. John Proos named Legislator of the Year by Michigan sheriffs

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Sheriffs’ Association (MSA) on Sunday presented Sen. John Proos with the organization’s 2017 Legislator of the Year Award.

New MSA president and Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey presented Proos with the award at the organization’s annual fall conference in recognition of Proos’ work to create a smarter and more effective criminal justice system in Michigan.

“It is an honor to be recognized by sheriffs throughout our state, who risk their lives every day to help protect our communities and bring criminals to justice,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I greatly appreciate this tribute and look forward to continuing to work with our sheriffs to support our law enforcement officers and do what we can to make Michigan a safer place.

“I was proud to receive this honor from Sheriff Bailey. He continues to serve Southwest Michigan with distinction and will now bring his leadership skills to the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association as its new president.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

The above photograph of Proos is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Photowire.

Governor signs Proos’ bill to update youth sports concussion law

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos’ legislation to update the state’s concussion awareness law was recently signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“As a father with children involved in multiple sports and physical activities, I understand the importance of concussion awareness and that we must do everything we can to protect the health of our young athletes,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I am proud to have led the effort in 2012 to help inform parents, coaches and athletes about concussions in youth sports. This new measure is about ensuring the law is meeting the needs of Michigan’s youth athletes.”

In 2012, Michigan passed Proos’ youth athlete concussion bills to protect young athletes by increasing awareness among coaches, volunteers, parents and athletes about the dangers associated with concussions. A youth suspected of sustaining a concussion is now required to be immediately removed from activity and cannot return until he or she has been evaluated by a health professional and has received written clearance to play.

Since the passage of Michigan’s statute, research and education have made significant strides to enhance the safety and health of student athletes and youth sports participants. Senate Bill 352, now Public Act 137 of 2017, requires the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to regularly review the state’s concussion awareness training program and make recommendations that coincide with the latest understanding of the neurobiopsychosocial nature of concussive injury and recovery.

PA 137 also ensures that supervising adults, such as coaches, are required to take part in the concussion awareness program complete the training once every three years. In addition, the legislation clarifies the definition of youth athlete.

Dr. Steven Broglio, director of the University of Michigan NeuroTrauma Research Laboratory and co-principal investigator of the Concussion, Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, stressed that state recommendations and the recommended care models should evolve as new research becomes available.

“It is important for sporting organizations and administrators to be up-to-date with the latest concussion research,” Broglio said. “That information should be promptly implemented to the clinical setting and disseminated to answer pressing questions asked by athletes and their families. Ultimately, we are interested in creating a safe environment that encourages physical activity throughout life.”

Proos said, “We are learning more about concussions every day. This reform is designed to ensure that everyone involved in youth sports keeps our children safe by keeping up with the latest standards and protocols for treating and preventing concussions.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Trick-or-treating hours throughout Southwest Michigan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos is reminding local families about the designated trick-or-treating periods this Halloween throughout Southwest Michigan.

“Children and their parents will soon be out in the streets celebrating the fun and excitement of Halloween,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I encourage everyone to have a fun and safe time. Being safe starts with being seen. Please stick to well-lit areas, wear something reflective or bright, make sure someone in the group has a flashlight, and stay as far away from the road as possible. Have a very happy Halloween!”

Proos also encourages children not to go out alone and to never eat any of their candy until it has been thoroughly inspected by an adult you know and trust.

“To help ensure that everyone in Southwest Michigan knows the times for scheduled trick-or-treating this year, we have put together a listing of trick-or-treating times for communities throughout Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties,” Proos said.

A graphic of the trick-or-treat information is available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/publications.

Trick-or-treating designated times for Tuesday, Oct. 31:

Berrien County
Baroda — 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Benton Harbor — Arts district from 4:30 to 6 p.m. with residential hours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Benton Township — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Berrien Springs — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Bridgman — 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Buchanan — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Coloma Township — 5 to 7 p.m.
Eau Claire — 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Lake Township — 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Niles — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Oronoko Township — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph — Downtown from 4:30 to 6 p.m. followed by citywide from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Stevensville — 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Cass County
Cassopolis — 6 to 8 p.m.
Dowagiac — 6 to 7 p.m.
Edwardsburg — 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Marcellus — 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Vandalia — 6 to 8 p.m.

St. Joseph County
Centreville — 5 to 7 p.m.
Colon — 4 to 6 p.m.
Constantine — 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Mendon — 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Sturgis — 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Three Rivers — 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
White Pigeon— 5:30 to 7 p.m.

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Leveling the playing field for homegrown microdistilleries

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos has introduced legislation to provide a reduced tax rate to microdistillers, similar to the rate applied to microbrewers.

“Small-volume distillers in Michigan must deal with Prohibition-era rules and regulations and a tax system that treats them the same as giant, multinational spirit makers,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This initiative would operate in a similar fashion to the tax credit currently available to eligible brewers and brewpubs. The goal is to help startup spirit producers succeed and encourage entrepreneurship and job creation in Michigan.”

Senate Bill 579 would provide a tax cut for distillers on the first 60,000 gallons of spirits manufactured in a calendar year, with each bottle beyond 60,000 gallons being subject to the current requirements.

“This is about fostering growth and innovation in an up-and-coming industry in Michigan,” Proos said. “We have seen the tremendous success that this policy has had on our local microbrew industry. Applying a similar tax system to the state’s spirits industry could result in millions of economic growth, more jobs and increased tax revenues.”

Michigan operates as a “control” state for the sale of spirits with the Liquor Control Commission as the wholesaler for all spirit products. Current law requires the commission to establish uniform prices for the sale of liquor that return a gross profit to the commission of at least 51 percent and not more than 65 percent.

Journeyman Distillery owner and operator Bill Welter supports Proos’ efforts and testified last year on the issue before the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform.

“While Michigan had a clear competitive advantage, it has since evaporated as Indiana and other states have updated their craft distilling laws to allow for on-site retail sales while also having much lower taxes,” Welter said.

According to Welter, Michigan taxes Journeyman Distillery $15 per bottle, while the same bottle sold in Indiana is taxed at 53 cents.

“Michigan’s rate is 28 times higher and therefore 28 times less competitive,” Proos said. “We should be competing with other states for these new opportunities and giving these small businesses a chance to thrive, not stifle them with burdensome red tape.”

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Editor’s note: Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Cancer drug coverage bill passes the Senate

Senator John Proos

Senator John Proos

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has passed legislation co-sponsored by Sen. John Proos to give insurance patients access to all forms of chemotherapy, regardless of how it is administered.

“Michigan is the only Great Lakes state and one of only seven states nationwide that treats insurance coverage of IV and orally administered chemotherapy treatments differently,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Although IV therapies are more invasive, they are fully covered under a person’s medical benefit, while oral treatments could cost patients thousands of dollars a month. Most importantly, some cancers can only be treated by oral medications.

“This reform is about saving lives and reducing costs by ensuring that Michigan patients always have access to the best treatments available when battling cancer.”

Senate Bill 492 would ensure that if a health insurance plan covers oral chemotherapy drugs, the medicine must be covered the same way intravenously or injected anticancer treatments are covered.

“If a patient in Michigan needs oral chemotherapy, the lifesaving treatment is currently covered as a prescription benefit,” Proos said. “The high out-of-pocket costs can force some patients to choose less effective treatment methods.

“I was proud to vote for this important legislation, which would ensure that Southwest Michigan patients never have to worry about the cost of cancer medications when choosing the best treatment in their fight.”

SB 492 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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Editor’s note — Audio comments by Proos are available at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Audio.

Sen. Proos visits with students at New Buffalo High School

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. John Proos on Monday visited a New Buffalo school to talk to high school students about his work as a senator and current events.

Proos spoke to teacher Tina Keller’s government class at New Buffalo High School.

“It was wonderful to join Mrs. Keller’s class this morning in New Buffalo,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “They asked me some great questions about my job, energy production and term limits.”

Note: The above photographs are available by clicking on the images or by selecting Photowire under the Media Center tab, above.